Michael Owen would be “surprised” if former Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney left Old Trafford this summer in spite of the apparent falling out between club and player.
Rooney was last night understood to be “angry and confused” at comments made in an interview last week by new United boss David Moyes, who seemed to indicate the England striker would be back-up to Robin van Persie for the forthcoming season.
The 27-year-old’s future with the Premier League champions became even more uncertain when it was revealed this morning that rivals Chelsea had made a bid for him, which was rejected out of hand by United.
While Owen, who played for United for three years from 2009, can empathise that someone of Rooney’s calibre needs to be playing on a regular basis, especially in a World Cup year, he would be shocked if the Red Devils decided to part company with one of their prized assets.
“At the height of my career, I wouldn’t have been too happy being on the bench a lot of the time, I would have wanted to be playing all the time,” Owen said on talkSPORT.
“He’s still only 27, he’s still a world-class player and I’m sure he won’t want to be sitting on the bench.
“That’s his decision and you’re options change as your fitness changes and your age changes or whatever it might be, but he’s in his prime, it’s a World Cup year, he won’t want to be sat waiting around on the bench so it remains to be seen whether that will be the case.
“I would be surprised if he left Manchester United but I can understand him wanting to play every game at his age.”
Owen believes the arrival of Van Persie from Arsenal for £24million last summer may have left Rooney feeling a little uneasy about his status at Old Trafford.
And the fact he was dropped by previous boss Sir Alex Ferguson for key games towards the end of the season – including the pivotal Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Real Madrid – would not have helped his growing unease.
“I think this has been brewing for a little while,” he added. “When Robin van Persie first signed, maybe Wayne wasn’t feeling as if he was the top man anymore and when you’re a player of his calibre then you need to feel wanted to produce your best.
“You need to be the one that everyone counts on to score the goals and when he was dropped by Sir Alex for the Real Madrid game last year that would have hurt his pride and everything else.
“I think we’re seeing a knock-on effect of that now.”